A man who killed six little penguins has been handed a suspended jail term following an appeal against his sentence.
In April, Joshua Leigh Jeffrey, 20, was found guilty of using a stick to bludgeon penguins to death at Sulphur Creek.
Magistrate Tamara Jago ordered Jeffrey to complete 49 hours of community service and pay court costs of $82.
Following the sentence a petition calling for a harsher penalty received about 76,000 signatures.
In July, a request for an appeal was lodged by Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates.
On Monday, Justice Stephen Estcourt handed Jeffrey a two-month suspended jail term.
Justice Estcourt also ordered Jeffrey to complete 98 hours of community service, subtracting the hours he’d already completed.
“Aggravated [animal] cruelty greatly offends the current community’s sensibilities,” Justice Estcourt said.
“A suspended sentence was called for and denunciation of the offending should be coupled by a significant period of community service.”
Aggravated cruelty greatly offends the current community’s sensibilities.Justice Stephen Estcourt
The court heard Jeffrey had been in the company of a youth at Sulphur Creek when the pair attacked six penguins in January 2016.
It was heard the pair used a stick to hit the penguins and the animals died after suffering fractures to the skull.
Ms Jago found the attack had been spontaneous and continued for a number of minutes.
In ruling on the appeal, Justice Estcourt said Jeffrey had enough time to reconsider his actions, and evidence suggested bystanders had been telling him to cease the attack.
A charge of aggravated cruelty to animals can attract a monetary penalty and a term of imprisonment up to 60 months.
RSPCA Tasmania executive officer Andrew Byrne said he had been pleased to see Jeffrey dealt a harsher penalty.
“My understanding is the case was pretty heinous and the RSPCA likes to think the laws and penalties are in place to reflect the seriousness of the offence,” Mr Byrne said.
“I’m pleased this case has been reassessed by the court and hopefully this will send a strong message to the community that animal cruelty will not be tolerated on any level.”
Little penguins are a protected species in Tasmania.
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